The Bulls look to enter this season with a ton of depth and talent. Derrick Rose called it the most talented team he's been on. With one mandatory roster spot to fill, one name keeps popping up in the Bulls blogosphere to chase. Shawn Marion, but the cost of Marion is steep and won't be defined in money.
The Pacers look to offer Marion the most money. If he decides to pursue the cash, then he'll end up with Indiana. Marion's had a long productive career. He's 36 years old right now and has earned 133 million in salary. He's had a shoe deal (though not a monster one), and probably has gotten some extra cash through marketing, but he's not in the uber rich class of athlete.
Depending how conservative he's been with his cash, he might have nearly unlimited wealth or might be thinking "this gig is almost over, I'd better take what I can get and save up this time". I'm going to lean more towards the first than the second, but I really don't know.
If he wants to go for the cash, then it's already over. The Bulls only have the minimum to offer, and so they won't win a bidding war.
Sean Marion also already has a ring. He earned one defeating LeBron in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks. He can hold a special place in our hearts for that already. Winning is always important, but a ring as a role player wouldn't change Marion's legacy much, especially since he's likely to play a smaller role on whatever team he joins.
From a Bulls perspective, I'd love to have a guy on the roster who knocked LeBron out in the finals though. I don't know if the Bulls have any fear in the locker room, but I think Marion's ring would help dispel any that's there.
If he wants a ring most, then most likely any team who's legitimately in the hunt would presumably love to add Marion for the minimum. Cleveland has pursued him hard, and Cleveland can offer him a defined role with a better chance to win. He merely has to be out Tristan Thompson to become the backup to both Love and LeBron which should get him 20+ minutes a game.
In order to make Chicago as appealing to Cleveland, they Bulls would need to carve out a similar sized role for Marion. They could theoretically promise him the starting SF spot and keep Butler at SG or just intimate to him that they see him playing 25 minutes a game at SF. Marion would add to the Bulls deep but pedestrianly talented wing players.
Let's be honest, Marion lost a step last year, and at 36 there's a good shot he lost another one this year. His blocks per minute were down to near half their historical rate, his rebound rate dropped significantly, and he's not the defensive impact player he once was. His scoring rate dropped to below 12 points per 36 minutes.
That's less than Jimmy Butler last year for comparison's sake, so he's not really an impact player on that end of the floor either. What Marion does give you is decent shooting, decent finishing around the basket, overall efficient play on both ends of the court, and plenty of veteran leadership. For a minimum salaried player, he'd be a stud, but the Bulls likely need to offer a role suited for a non minimum player to convince him to come.
Looking at the Bulls roster, I'd rather have Marion than Dunleavy, so he can steal any minutes Dunleavy would get. I'd rather play Marion at the three with McDermott/Butler at the two than Kirk at the two with one of those guys at the three which means he effectively can also take any Kirk Hinrich non PG minutes as far as I'm concerned.
Add up those two things and perhaps there's enough minutes here to entice Marion into coming to Chicago. The winter sucks compared to where he's spent his career in Phoenix, Miami, and Dallas, but he was born in the Chicago burbs and has a house in the area. Cleveland and Indiana aren't exactly winter resort cities either, so Chicago would still seem to have the edge there as a place he'd rather live.
If the Bulls add Marion, I'd love to see them enter something like an nine man rotation like this:
Wings: McDermott, Marion, Butler
Bigs: Noah, Gibson, Gasol, Mirotic
Of course, we know we'll play Hinrich over Brooks, but even swapping those two would look pretty good to me. The problem with adding Marion is that I foresee Thibodeau stealing any time Mirotic would get to give it to Marion instead. Thibodeau has generally always played the better player and isn't particularly high on developing guys in games.
When trying to win a championship I can't complain about that philosophy all that much, but there are plenty of games where the Bulls will have big leads and can easily afford to develop there younger guys. The question is in a game seven against the Cavaliers, who do you want on the floor? Shawn Marion or Nikola Mirotic?
If we believe Mirotic develops to the point that he's more valuable in that game by the end of the season then you keep Marion off the roster just so he doesn't interfere with the players they already have gelling. If you believe Marion is more valuable then you take him and Mirotic might simply end up on the ultra slow track for development (so sad for him).
Also, we already know injuries will come, and what looks like a deep team now might spend considerable portions of the season without much depth due to simultaneous injuries. The Bulls have enough players at every position to survive even a few simultaneous injuries without considerable impact, but adding Marion would certainly help there too.
In the end, I think Bulls management is either working in stealth mode or have already decided that Marion's skills aren't needed here due to the guys already on the roster. I'm okay with either scenario. I certainly like Marion more than chasing someone with "potential". The final roster spot should go to a veteran who can provide leadership, and getting someone as skilled as Marion is probably the best possible scenario.
However, if they decide to Thibs proof the roster a bit in terms of getting their rookies playing time then I'm not going to complain either.
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